Extreme ski mountaineer Kit DesLauriers, a walking survival story, will grace a downtown Knoxville stage this week during her 24-city tour to share her experiences of skiing the famed seven summits—the highest peaks on each continent. In 2006, DesLauriers, a two-time World Freeskiing Champion, skied off the summit of Mt. Everest, marking her seventh descent and a distinct moment in history. This fall’s “Lessons From the Summit” series is presented in conjunction with the North Face Never Stop Exploring Series, highlighting inspirational outdoor adventurers.
Metro Pulse: You’ve climbed and skied all seven summits. Is it possible to choose a favorite or most profound experience from the seven?
Kit DesLauriers: I can’t choose a favorite, kind of like children, as they are all special. However, the best skiing conditions were had on Mt. Elbrus in Russia, and the coldest temps were on Vinson Massif in Antarctica. The only time I thought one of us [husband Rob DesLauriers] might die was on Everest, and it was a profound moment contemplating how I would explain that to my mother-in-law. Fortunately we kept it together and didn’t have to experience that.
MP: Any skiing bloopers you’d be willing to share?
KD: When I took my telemark skis off at dusk at high mountain hut in Switzerland in 1999 after touring for hours to reach it (and in wonderful anticipation of my 7,000-foot descent to come the next day), I neglected to anchor the first ski as I undid the second one and promptly watched the first one head backwards off the mountain down into a couloir. I guess that was a lesson in being vigilant with my gear that I never forgot. You can imagine how careful I was while putting my skis on atop Everest.
MP: What would you consider to be your philosophy?
KD: My philosophy on skiing and on life is to visualize exactly what you want with no negativity involved, because that is likely what you will get.
MP: As the first person to ski seven summits and the first woman to ski off the summit at Mt. Everest, you’re a point of admiration. Who do you most admire?
KD: Anyone and everyone who is living their dream instead of sitting on the couch.
MP: You’ve recently become a mother twice-over—congratulations! How long before Baby DesLauriers will be in skis?
KD: Our oldest is now 22 months old, and she’s been skiing on her own since 15 months. Our newest daughter is three months old, so we shall see. My intuition says that she prefers warmer weather. For each of them it has to be what they want, so I should mention that our oldest asked to go and even used her sign language skills to ask for more!
MP: So you’ve conquered the seven summits. What next?
KD: Continue to merge motherhood with mountain life. That should keep me busy if I wasn’t already.
MP: Can you give us a glimpse of your “Lessons From the Summit” series?
KD: In retrospect, each summit experience had an individual and valuable lesson for me, and the sum total helped us to survive the Everest trip, so I like to think they are worthy of sharing. You’ll have to show up to hear them!